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Is this what passive agressive means?

(25 Posts)
mostlyhappy Sat 13-Oct-12 22:06:37

Am pretty exhausted from 7-year relationship with DP. I need opinions on a situation that I find we are in quite often and want to know what people think...
Though, when we are 'getting on' he is quite affectionate and communicative, he will sometimes suddenly seem to become distant and then barely speak to me for days at a time. An example of this is that last week we were at a family get-together and after we came away he became very quiet. A couple of things were said in a jokey way by family members which may have annoyed him but they really were inoffensive and I honestly don't think anyone else would have been at all annoyed by them.

Anyway, I asked a couple of times if he was OK and said he seemed a bit quiet but he said 'No I'm fine, just tired.' He has basically barely spoken to me since (ie for a week!!). It is so hard to explain this and I know people reading this will think I'm mad (but feel like I'm going mad in this environment). He has carried on as if everything is totally normal and talks about all the necesssary stuff like childcare/small talk about what is for dinner etc but doesn't retain eye contact, shows no affection, and has clearly been annoyed with me for one week! He won't admit it and I know it sounds ridiculous but I've been in this situation so many times that I've simply refused to bring it up again and I have carried on as if I think everything is normal as well! Is this what 'passive agressive' behaviour is?

I used to try to discuss the 'issue' - what ever it might be - in the past when this happened but he would always deny there was anything wrong and eventually I would 'crack' and get irritated with him and somehow it would all turn in to a row. Nowadays if I ignore his mood (as I am currently doing) and carry on being polite/pleasant but not indulging him, he will eventually say something like 'come on, let's not fall out.' and give me a cuddle. I find this annoying because he always claims it is me who has been in a strop and will not accept that it is him... All so incredibly petty and tedious but I guess I'm 'detaching' these days in order not to allow a row/get too upset myself. It is very tiring though and I would appreciate others views on whether this is a known pattern in relationships?

ClippedPhoenix Sat 13-Oct-12 22:24:29

He sounds like a total baby OP and yes he's not only passive aggressive he's manipulative by giving the silent treatment, then not getting a reaction and brushing it all under the carpet.

Does the good outweigh the bad still? Can you be bothered with all this?

OneMoreGo Sat 13-Oct-12 22:27:30

Have a look at this [[ http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/abusiverelationships/a/Pass_Agg.htm excellent link]] and see if that rings any bells. To be honest, he sounds like he is stonewalling you which is hurtful. And the playing down of your concerns/implying it is YOU who started the sulking is almost a form of gaslighting because he is attempting to re-write what has just happened and make you doubt yourself. Not pleasant stuff sad
He sounds like an idiot, why are you still hanging in there? Does he have MANY amazing and redeeming features?

I also found an article which says:

"*Is the silent treatment a form emotional abuse?*

Some silent treatment rises to the level of emotional abuse. This silent treatment involves intentional silence that is meant to inflict emotional punishment. For example: “If she’s going to keep nagging me, I will just ignore her because I know that drives her crazy.”

It suggests poor interpersonal relationship skills and more specifically, it suggests poor communication, distress tolerance and emotion regulation skills. If used repeatedly in a relationship to punish the other person, this silent treatment does rise to the level of emotional abuse."

OneMoreGo Sat 13-Oct-12 22:28:38

Sorry, messed up that first link there. Here you go.

ClippedPhoenix Sat 13-Oct-12 22:33:23

It's time to get tough now OP isnt it. Are you ready to do the "shit or bust" on this?

Shakey1500 Sat 13-Oct-12 22:36:04

I agree it sounds extremely juvenile. If you are of a mind to try and improve things/remain in the relationship then next time it happens I would be inclined to say (after you've ascertained that he is "fine, just tired" or whatever he usually trots out)...

"Look. I've no idea what's wrong with you, I don't believe you are "just tired". But I'm quite sure that it's nothing I've done. So, carry on as you are. It's not affecting me as much as you may think it is. When you've finished having your strop/silent episode then let me know. Until then, I shall be carrying on as normal. BUT....know this- each time you do this it's makes me dislike you juuust that little bit more"

Or something along those lines sorry I got carried away

mostlyhappy Sat 13-Oct-12 22:37:26

Thank you OneMoreGo and ClippedPhoenix. I have felt unhappy for couple of years and regularly think about leaving him. We have two small children and if I'm really honest the main reasons for staying are selfish - I don't want them to live away from me for half the week (which he has said he would insist on when we've discussed this in the past) and I would find times like Christmas heartbreaking as obviously I wouldn't be with them every other year on C.Day. I know how selfish this is but I know I would find this negotiation very very difficult with him also as he is extremely aggressive sometimes (verbally, not physically). There are, of course, some good elements to our relationship - we get on 'fine' probably two thirds of the time.

I have often wondered if I am a very difficult person, though, and I suppose I dread the thought of being single and lonely for evermore.

mostlyhappy Sat 13-Oct-12 22:39:48

Yes, it's true, Shakey, and I've tried to tell him this but he's very good at making me feel it's actually me who has caused it all and that he likes me less each time!

ClippedPhoenix Sat 13-Oct-12 22:44:16

Sweetheart other wordy people will be along soon to help you.

It's hard but he will grind you down to nothing or the house will just end up being a very unhappy one.

It's best to get out when the children are small, for their sake.

Beckamaw Sat 13-Oct-12 22:59:43

I had one of these. Isn't is so frustrating?
It is true that you detach a little each time.
Relationships are supposed to be about working together, not manipulating and punishing someone you are supposed to love! angry

When I tried to force my ex to talk, his response was to put his hands over his ears, quite literally, and shout 'La la la, I'm not listening!'
I'm ashamed to say that on one such occasion, I hit him with a coat hanger.

The only solution, for me, was the end of the relationship. There were other issues too.
It was a relief.

OneMoreGo Sat 13-Oct-12 23:02:05

Agree about getting out when the kids are young. It can be hard not to see them every day but the main thing is they are happy going to the other parents and if they are not and he is horrible to them, don't let them go. If they were happy to have time with him, then I'm sure it would be a lot better for them than living on this toxic atmosphere. Worried for you about the verbal stuff, and him being an arse a third of the time. That sounds a horrible environment for you all to be in. sad

Anniegetyourgun Sat 13-Oct-12 23:03:37

Ah, memories. After I'd eventually tired of it and given XH the third degree, it usually turned out he was having a strop over something I hadn't even said, something I had said that he had (deliberately?) misheard, or something completely innocent that could only be made to sound offensive if you twisted logic to within an inch of its life. Or someone else had said it, and I "clearly agreed with them" by failing to take them to task, probably because I either hadn't heard or had taken their words at face value ie perfectly innocent.

It doesn't get any better after 25 years, either.

You do realise that just because he says he wants 50-50 residence with the DCs it doesn't mean the court will necessarily agree?

Anniegetyourgun Sat 13-Oct-12 23:05:00

Beckamaw, I threw a box of tissues, a handful of pens and a pyrex cup at mine blush

OneMoreGo Sat 13-Oct-12 23:06:00

By the way, the bloke who said angrily that he would 'see me in court!' re access to our son ended up not being bothered at all about making an effort, he changed tack tried to completely fuck off as another way to rile me. It's taken 2 years or more since I left for him to have DS half the week and I'm glad of the break frankly! grin It is far harder to parent alone without any support from the father of your kids, so try not to see him having them as a negative but as a chance for you to reclaim your life, get out, be happy and live a little. Eventually you'd meet someone who treated you super well and actually loved you.

Viviennemary Sat 13-Oct-12 23:14:46

It's really a poor show when adults go into moods and won't say what's wrong. So you spend the whole time saying oh are you all right. And thinking you've done something wrong.

However, if somebody is going through a really stressful time at work, or is suffering from depression that could be a reason. But if this is a long term thing it must be very difficult if you've put up with this for years and not got much hope of things getting any better. I agree with what Annie says in her post. I know somebody who was married for nearly fifty years and then was widowed and wonders why she had stayed all these years with a really difficult and not very pleasant man.

mostlyhappy Sat 13-Oct-12 23:27:01

Bloody hell, OneMoreGo, thanks for that link - it is literally like reading a personal profile of my partner! I had never realised this is what he is before! I have posted a couple of times on here in the past but not for this particular lovely element of our relationship. I feel a bit embarrassed and weak for posting again as I'm still in the same position. But I think I have always been convinced it could work until fairly recently and now it's a question of how childcare arrangements will work if/when we split more than anything for me.

Bacamaw and Annie - I'm very ashamed to say I have ended up lashing out at him (hitting his face) once. I was so upset that I kind of lost it - he just kept taunting me, calling me a pathetic bitch/bad mother/laughing at me when I was crying and I started hitting at him - not actually violently just in a complete hysterical outburst. I was very ashamed but he kept saying I was violent for a long time afterwards and I am anxious that that will be brought up as a sly threat if we split and then negotiate childcare arrangements.

I know, of course, that plenty of single people are very happy and I'm not saying I 'need' a man - I just want to be in a loving relationship eventually and as time goes by I just can't see it happening with him.

The children do love him and he is very good with them so I have no doubt that they will want to see him as much as they can.
Thank you all for help and advice so far.

Tnetennba Sat 13-Oct-12 23:28:02

My DH used to do this sometimes and it drove me crazy. It was when our DC's were all under 4. He had a stressful, tiring job and I was probably tired myself. no shit I would rather he had just had a big row with me and get it over and done with. angry
I think my DH was more fed up in general than being fed up with me in particular. I wonder if he felt a bit ignored which he was but jeez what would you expect
It would end with me crying and forcing a scene or me pandering to him.
My DH was lovely to me 95% of the time and lovely to the DC 100% of the time. The remaining 5% when he was being an arse was infuriating.
The DC got older, I got cleverer, and DH matured (?) and we have now been married 25+ years. To be honest, I suppose I also matured and he also got cleverer. wink He is still a little teeny bit of a prat from time to time but he hasn't done the moody silent routine for at least 15 years. I now could not Imagine being married to a nicer, kinder bloke.
I would be interesting to get his side ofthe story but I am going to let sleeping dogs lie and be grateful we have a great and loving relationship.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Sat 13-Oct-12 23:53:53

My dh was like this for years. He did try to change, but it was too late and I didn't love him any more.

We are separating and it's horrendous.

I'd love to just say don't tolerate this behaviour OP, but it didn't work for me fighting about it the whole time. He only ever changed on the surface. He's an angry man and I can't live with him any more.

Get out. You will anyway, even if it's not now. Be grateful your children are young, it makes it so much easier for them. Fuck what society thinks, put your children first. Social oppobrium is worse if kids are small, but they cope better and that is more important.

I felt my marriage had no future more than four years ago. I wish we had separated then, when dd were 7 and 5. Younger one is fine, but my elder dd is having a horrible time with this and I feel dreadful that I didn't do it before.

mostlyhappy Sun 14-Oct-12 12:43:34

Thanks, Tiredof.. I would like to think I'd be putting my children first, as you say, but the problem is in my case I'm not sure I would be. For example, he does shout at them (particularly eldest) quite a lot - not violently just in a mean and grumpy way when he gets impatient with him. Whilst all living together I feel I can control this by talking to him but if they spend half week with him, I won't be there. I'm not making out I'm a model mother - I get cross and impatient too but not nearly as much as him.

On a different note - is it OK to say I only want them to stay with him two nights a week and then him come over one eve to be with them/bath or put them to bed if we do split - at least in the short-term until they get used to there being two homes to live in? He does find me very controlling (I am 'in charge' of money and am a SAHM so tend to be the main decision-maker on childcare too) and though I really want to try to be fair I feel terrible at thought of them staying away for more than that. This is all if we do split of course - but I do feel it's inevitable and want to get things straight in my mind.

OneMoreGo Sun 14-Oct-12 15:20:01

Glad the link was helpful smile It is very good, and helped me to leave my XP was was also very similar to yours. A few points;
It is a common tactic for abusive men to wind their partner up by goading them and then do the finger twirling at the temple thing and tell the partner/everyone else/both "She's mad, mad I tell you!". It is very horrible and low behaviour. I wouldn't worry too much about him using it against you as he was using verbal threats and abusive language at the time so it's not as if you launched yourself at him for no reason or have done since.

The other thing, you really REALLY don't want to set up an established pattern where he is in your house. Contact with the kids should happenon HIS turf and he should have a suitable abode to allow this. Collect at the door, preferably don't even allow him over the threshold ever. Trust me when I say this type of chap will use every passive aggressive technique available when their partner has the temerity to remove themselves from their orbit. (They can't wind you up in the old ways so their will seize on new methods to piss you off, and you'll want to limit the opportunities as much as possible.) And their absolute fave is swaggering around the exes house looking at their post, making derogatory comments or asking nosy questions about heir choice of decor/home/etc etc. I found having a male friend appearing suddenly with a cup of tea in one hand worked well, or just going and opening the front door and stand there holding it while saying 'say goodbye to daddy' to the kids when you want him to go. Sometimes my XP would block my path to the door so I couldn't open it while standing talking. Maddening! So generally you don't want them in there at all if at all possible - it just sets a precedent they will exploit and refuse to change.

Re: contact times speak with a solicitor during a free half hour and get an idea of what it acceptable. It's easier to up the amounts of contact but more difficult to decrease it without a good reason, so maybe two days and nights would be a good start and take it from there? You don't have to have the time as one single block; my four year old goes to XP on Mon, Weds and Sat from 11am til 6.30. I take him there, XP brings him back. We've just introduced an overnight in the last few months so he stays over there on Monday night as well and that works really nicely. Though I'd prefer if it was Saturday night grin but naturally XP is being obstructive in that way.

onionlove Mon 15-Oct-12 22:12:41

Hi Mostly,
Sorry to come in late to this but I had to reply as I have so many similarities with your situation, I also feel exhausted, I have been married for 7-years, together for 9 with my DP.
My DP is actually suffering from depression which has taken a long time to uncover but recently been unbearable since we had our 2nd child 4 months ago. He has just started going for counselling which I am pleased about but it is uncovering all sorts of things he has never dealt with and sort of making it worse in the short term so he has now decided he needs some medication as well.
My DP is quite happy not to talk to me for ages, immerses himself in sport and movies and stays up late every night whereas I'm pooped by 10 pm because of spending all day with the children (I'm still on maternity leave) and having to get up for night feeds etc. He also doesn't sleep with me anymore as he says my snoring is too bad, may or may not be true but I have endured his snoring in the past! So as you can imagine our sex life is pretty non existent too. The other day when we had a row because he asked me to put on TV to keep our son quiet he stormed off to the cinema whilst I was left to put the children to bed on my own - nice eh?
At the moment I'm pretty appalled by him, he's not interested in me, the children, the house or anything, I'm hoping he will get better in the future but I just don't know how much is right for me to stand and for the children to have to live with either, its so difficult. I want to stand by him, for better for worse, sickness and health etc. but its increasingly difficult.
He is secretive and doesn't tell me anything, he makes plans with my step daughter (his daughter) for the weekends she is here without me so I am left feeling like they are the couple at the head of the house and I'm one of the children if that makes sense???
I also feel like I'm going mad in my environment as my DH will carry on as normal, cooking tea, talking about children, the thing that hit home from your post for me was the lack of eye contact, what is that about, it drives me crazy! He says I'm just a bully and should leave him alone or we row whenever I try to make him understand that this isn't the way to live together in a relationship or a family.
I have also detached but feel like I have gone from a loving and fun loving person to a zombie in this relationship and I pretty much am putting all my energy into the children at the moment.
I'm sorry to hijack your thread but I just wanted to say that I know exactly how you feel and its rubbish and wish you good luck with your future whatever you decide to do, I would be interested in how you get on
Onion xx

mostlyhappy Wed 17-Oct-12 14:53:15

Onion - thanks very much for your comment. I almost don't want to have to consider that he may have depression because that would mean I would have to re-think my determination that we need to separate! I know how selfish that will sound - I just feel that over the last week or so I have kind of made up my mind that we can't and shouldn't - for the sake of the children - live together and this has been like a fuzzy cloud lifting from my eyes (I've mulled it over countless times in the past but it has always seemed such a horrendous option before now). I am worried that I won't have the resolve to do it but am determined to split up from him now. Even writing this down, it makes me feel that I'm being so fickle and self-centred. I just think it's come to a head after many years of me (and him, to an extent) trying to 'fix' things.

I am thinking that I will decide once and for all next time we have a big row as that is when he gets very aggressive and says extremely hurtful things. I feel devious for planning it in this way but this is the time when I feel most upset and desperate. I also hope that he will understand the need for splitting then (after all the inevitable name-calling etc) as he seems to think we are 'fine' the rest of the time.

Your relationship does sound similar and it must be very hard for you - you have the added stress of his relationship with his daughter, who, though I'm sure she is lovely, adds another 'complication'. Maybe the counselling will help in your case - I hope it does.

You have probably heard of this book but, following recommendations on MN, I'm reading 'Why does he do that?' by Lundy Barncroft and it is remarkably accurate and also upsetting. It helps being able to put a label on certain things that he does, for sure. I am also very, very aware that this is not all his fault. I think I am a difficult person too and expect a lot. It's just that being with him has made me feel like an exaggerated combination of all my faults because he tells me about them so horribly during rows, if you know what I mean?

Anyway - I will keep you informed and good luck your end!

Kundry Wed 17-Oct-12 15:13:40

You might well find that if you weren't in a relationship with a passive aggressive git, you are actually quite easy to get on with. I've spent 15 years thinking I was high maintenance and difficult - turns out with the right person I'm lovely.

Also does he spend 50% of the time with the kids now? He may say he wants 50:50 as a tactic to stop you leaving, but if you really split I suspect you'd find it's a different story. Remember as kids grow up they also have their own opinions on which parent they want to be with - it's unlikely to be the grumpy arse.

Mayisout Wed 17-Oct-12 20:33:10

Isn't there any professional help for you Onionlove, whilst your DH sorts himself out? It might be useful for you to have some expert advice on what to expect whilst your DP goes through treatment. You should speak to your GP.
Some of the behaviour sounds self-indulgent and despite depression I would have thought you could expect to be able to have a reasonable discussion about eg secret behaviour with his DD. Can you call on family or friends for the support you are not getting from DP?

cheapskatemum Wed 17-Oct-12 21:09:47

Kundry - I think that's what's happening with friends of mine who are experiencing marital problems. I didn't want to hijack thread, but no-one's replying to the new one I tried to start (ok, I'm impatient). I know the bloke better & he considers his DW to be high maintenance, needy, insecure. So, for example, when she tries to phone & text him throughout the day, to find out where he is & who with, he has taken to not answering. On the other hand, when he does try to have a conversation with her about the relationship, she stops listening at the point where it gets to anything she might have to do in order to improve things for him. He has acknowledged that he is at fault for putting up with a status quo that is not condusive to him (I'm paraphrasing, he doesn't say it quite like that!) for too long.

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